MARKEY WINS, 2
RALLY FOR PROGRESS, 3
COMEDIC CHAOS, 9
VERY PRECEDENTED, 11
Sen. Ed Markey reclaims his Senate seat.
Protesters pass out free cider in the Boston Common.
Late-night comedy shows entertain an election.
This presidential election is anything but unprecedented.
CE LE B RATIN G
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 4, 2020
I N DE PE N DE N T
STU D E NT
J O U R NA LI S M
THE INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER AT BOSTON UNIVERSITY
YEAR L. VOLUME XCIX. ISSUE IV
RACE STALLS AT FINISH LINE BIDEN TAKES MASSACHUSETTS
Daniel Kool Daily Free Press Staff President Donald Trump falsely declared victory early Wednesday morning — when nine states were yet to finish tallying their ballots — and attempted to discredit mail-in ballots as the electoral map remained too close to call. Speaking to a White House East Room packed with unmasked supporters, the president said he planned to present the election to the Supreme Court and demand a stop to ongoing ballot counting. “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country,” Trump said during a 2:20 a.m. address. “We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list.” The president falsely claimed victory in Georgia and North Carolina, two states where margins are tightening as ballots are counted. Trump also claimed decisive leads in Michigan and Pennsylvania — both of which had reported roughly one-third of expected ballots uncounted at the time of his address. “Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said as a chorus of cheers erupted from the room. “So, our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation. This is a very big moment.” Former Vice President Joe Biden won Massachusetts minutes after the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
Voters say yes on expanding right to repair Jane Avery Daily Free Press Staff Voters approved Question 1 on the Massachusetts ballot Tuesday, passing a bill that would enable vehicle owners and independent repair shops to obtain more access to car
data. Question 2, which would have implemented ranked-choice voting statewide, failed. Question 1 asked voters whether an addition should be made to the state’s 2012 “right to repair” law. The passed bill will mandate the telematics systems of cars sold in Massachusetts be made open-source, permitting independent repair shops
and consumers to access vehicles’ diagnostic data beginning in 2022. Car manufacturers, under this law, will be barred from mandating car owners or independent repair shops get their permission before accessing the mechanical data of a car, allowing consumers to freely bring their vehicles to independent shops. Currently, owners need approval from the man-
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LAURYN ALLEN | DAILY FREE PRESS FILE
Massachusetts voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill for the right to repair, but rejected ranked-choice voting.
ufacturer for an independent shop to make repairs. Proponents argue the law is a matter of expanded and more efficient access to information for independent repair shops. Tommy Hickey, director of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, said the ballot measure’s approval hands control to consumers themselves regarding the sharing of their cars’ information. “This would make the car owner the gatekeeper of their wireless diagnostic and repair information,” Hickey said. “Consumers prefer to go to independent repair shops about 75 percent of the time, and this will allow them to have the ability to do that.” However, opponents claim the law would pose an unnecessary threat to drivers’ data privacy. Conor Yunits, a spokesperson for the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data, told The Daily Free Press in late September this policy would also grant third parties access to GPS data and emergency response data. Yunits added that repair shops are already able to access diagnostic data via a wired connection to the car. Hickey, however, said wireless transmission will make sharing information more efficient. Since 1996,
diagnostic data has traditionally been accessible through an on-board diagnostics port, but this method is losing traction, he said. “We’re moving away from the OBD port,” Hickey said. “That OBD port is becoming wireless, so through a mobile app on your phone or through the dashboard of your 2022 car, you would be able to share that information with an independent repairer.” This law will make telematics data available on a mobile app, so all vehicle owners and repair shops have open access to data from all car models made in 2022 or later. But Yunits said this openness will render vehicles more vulnerable to hacking. The National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration stated in a July letter to U.S. congressional leaders that manufacturers would be unable to follow federal guidance and maintain cybersecurity measures if the initiative passed. Projections from earlier in the week showed 75 to 80 percent of Massachusetts voters would cast their ballots in favor of the bill, according to Hickey. The right to repair will also require CONTINUED ON PAGE 3
Incumbent Markey wins Senate in landslide
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LAURYN ALLEN | DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Ed Markey won his senatorial race against Republican Kevin O’Connor in a landslide Tuesday.
Chris Larabee Daily Free Press Staff Democratic incumbent Sen. Ed Markey defeated Republican challenger Kevin O’Connor in a landslide Tuesday to keep his U.S Senate seat. The Associated Press called the race shortly after polls closed
at 8 p.m. Markey had defeated Rep. Joe Kennedy in the Sept. 1 Massachusetts primary. Markey, who has served in Congress for more than 40 years, co-authored the Green New Deal alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. O’Connor, a lawyer and political newcomer who has served the legal community in
Boston for three decades, ran on the platform of bringing to Washington a bipartisan lawmaking attitude, similar to that of state government in the Commonwealth. In his victory speech Tuesday night from Boston, broadcasted to viewers through his website, Markey said he appreciates that O’Connor ran a respectful
campaign. “I spoke with my opponent, Kevin O’Connor, just moments ago and I extended my thanks for a civil, spirited campaign,” Markey said. “Our democracy is stronger because of the discussion that took place throughout the general election.” Markey, speaking in a nearempty room, thanked his coalition of young voters, dubbed the “Markeyverse,” for being younger reflections of himself. “To the Markeyverse, in each of you, I saw myself,” Markey said, “passionate disruptors and changemakers, unrelenting optimists. You might be sitting in front of a laptop screen with a phone in hand. I know you will never let anyone tell you where to stand.” Markey said this younger generation of voters is ready to make progress in the United States. “We built not only a campaign, but a real grassroots movement, a movement of progressive ideals and diverse voices,” Markey said, “a movement for justice, a movement to dismantle the status quo and achieve long-overdue progress for America.” Markey said he will use his position to fight for science as the country works to end the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, moving “from peril to progress.” “Then in the face of the existential climate crisis, our elected leaders listen to the young people demanding change, trust them to lead the way and pass a Green New Deal,” Markey said. “A Green New Deal is not just
about pushing to the left. It’s about pushing what’s right.” Early polling showed Markey was favored to win. O’Connor said in his concession speech he called Markey to congratulate him on the “well-earned” victory. He said he faced a difficult challenge in uprooting a strong Democratic presence in Massachusetts. “[Markey has] had a tremendous year in terms of winning a primary that was a difficult challenge,” O’Connor said. “We faced enormous odds. The weight of the system is so tilted in favor of the established interests.” Speaking to an in-person audience of dozens at Amrheins in South Boston, O’Connor said that despite his loss, his campaign was able to further the discussion of democracy in Massachusetts. “You learn in competition that the victory isn’t this game, it’s the next game,” O’Connor said. “I believe we have advanced the cause for public safety, good jobs and for Massachusetts.” O’Connor said he and his team will continue their presence in Massachusetts politics. “I told our team: ‘Win, lose or draw, Nov. 4 we go back to work,’” O’Connor said. “That’s exactly the spirit in which we’re going to attack it.” In concluding his speech, Markey said it is time for everyone to follow the younger generation into the future. “Our young people are ready. Let us join them,” Markey said. “I am so proud of this campaign and what we stand for. And I have never been more hopeful about the future of our country.”
Presidential winner may be unclear for days PRESIDENT, FROM PAGE 1 state’s polls closed. Biden was the first to address supporters, speaking at a drive-in rally in Wilmington, Del. shortly after 12:40 a.m. “It ain’t over till every vote is counted, every ballot is counted,” Biden said. “But we’re feeling good.” Standing next to First Lady Melania Trump and pausing frequently to wink, he said delays have been expected and emphasized patience as mail-in votes continue to be tallied. The former vice president concluded his address with a quote from his grandfather. “Every time I walked out of my grandpa’s house up in Scranton, he’d yell, ‘Joey, keep the faith,’” Biden shouted over a harmony of cheers and car horns. “Keep the faith, guys. We’re going to win this.” Trump won key states Florida, Ohio and Texas — all of which Democrats had hoped to sway. Results are not expected in key swing states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania until later this week. “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election,” Trump tweeted following Biden’s address. Twitter placed a misinformation warning on the tweet, in which he falsely claimed votes cannot be cast after polls close. Ten minutes later, Biden tweeted it was neither his nor Trump’s place to call the election. Trump allegedly told confidants that he would declare victory if he appeared to be ahead on Tuesday, Axios reported Sunday. This decision would likely hinge on the delayed count of mail-in ballots in key states like Pennsylvania. Peter Ubertaccio, an associate pro-
fessor of political science at Stonehill College, said in an interview with The Daily Free Press Monday that he expected Trump to claim victory before the election had been called. “[Trump] declaring victory is not a legal or a constitutional action, but he’s going to do it,” Ubertaccio said. “And I suspect there would be pressure on Biden to do it as well in order to gain public opinion, or to kind of move public opinion to his side.” But on a phone call with Fox and Friends Tuesday morning, the president said he would declare victory “only when there’s victory.” “I think the polls are, you know, suppression polls. I think we’ll have victory,” Trump said. “There’s no reason to play games.” While preliminary data tended to favor a Biden win nationally, many voters had expressed apprehension toward trusting polls after the 2016 election, which saw Hillary Clinton ultimately lose to Trump despite maintaining a clear lead in the polls. Ubertaccio said Massachusetts is typically called early into election night. He added that the Associated Press, which calls elections for some major news sources, studies individual precincts based on their tallying and voting histories. Massachusetts has not been taken by a Republican candidate since 1984, when Ronald Reagan won just over 51 percent of the vote. The state will count until Friday mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day, but Ubertaccio said late-coming ballots are unlikely to influence the election’s outcome. Although tallying in Massachusetts could not begin until polls closed at 8 p.m., local election officials were able to begin processing ballots — removing them from envelopes and
running them through tabulators — as early as Oct. 25. Ubertaccio said national delays may stem from the logistics of opening and sorting mail-in ballots as well as higher voter turnout overall. He added, however, that he did not anticipate mail-in voting to contribute to significant delays. While the media often calls races on election night, it takes days or weeks for results to be certified by election officials, Debra O’Malley, spokesperson for Massachusetts Secretary of State, wrote in an email. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin expected a turnout of at least 3.6 million, 300,000 more than in 2016, according to O’Malley. She added Galvin anticipated that “almost all ballots” would be reflected in Tuesday’s count. “The final results are unlikely to change due to ballots counted after
Election Day, except in the case of a very close race for a small district office,” O’Malley wrote. More than 2.3 million Massachusetts residents cast their vote before Election Day, making up 69.6 percent of the state’s total 2016 voter turnout, according to preliminary numbers released Tuesday morning. Nearly 1.4 million of those ballots were returned by mail. Early in-person voting in Massachusetts started Oct. 17 and concluded Monday. No cases of voter fraud were reported in Massachusetts throughout that period, O’Malley wrote. Although claims of fraud are likely to echo throughout social and partisan media, the tabulation process itself is largely “insulated” from outside interference, Nick Beauchamp, assistant professor of political science at Northeastern University, wrote in
an email. He added that older, mostly conservative voters tend to share more misinformation online. “Most of the voter disenfranchisement has already happened,” Beauchamp wrote, “in the form of ex-felon disenfranchisement, polling place reductions, strict mail ballot rules, etc.” Ubertaccio said this year is likely to set a new precedent for how American elections are conducted. The normalization of an “election season” would likely change the nature of campaigning, Ubertaccio said, adding that voters will likely want to maintain the flexibility they’d been extended this election. “It’d have to be a really good reason to say, ‘No, we’re going to go back to, essentially, that one day of voting,” Ubertaccio said. “I don’t see what the strong rationale would be for that.”
SARAH SILBIGER | DAILY FREE PRESS FILE
President Donald Trump falsely declared victory early Wednesday morning as results continued to remain too close to call.
HANNAH YOSHINAGA | DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Two attendees of a community forum hold a sign on the bandstand at the Boston Common as advocacy groups such as Freedom Fighters Coalition and Sunrise Boston gathered to rally on election night.
Progressive groups rally peacefully in Boston Common after results roll in on election night Shaun Robinson Diana Leane Daily Free Press Alum
The Boston Common bandstand hosted chants and calls to action for progressive causes Tuesday night, an outlier in an otherwise-quiet Downtown as polls closed across the state and the first results of the 2020 election began to be reported. Local progressive groups rallied to show their commitment to fighting for workers’ rights, climate justice and racial equity long after ballots were counted. About 50 people showed up in the 30-degree weather, bundled in coats and masks and bumping elbows to greet one another.
“Now is the time to be out here in the streets fighting for change, fighting for the things that we believe in, because we are the future,” Kevin Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition, told the crowd from the bandstand platform. “Whether [Joe] Biden or [Donald] Trump is in office at the end of the week, we still have work to do.” Several storefronts near the Park Street station on Tremont Street were boarded up. Sidewalks were mostly empty, and beyond the rally, the park was quiet enough to hear the sound of rats picking through a trash can. Organizers strung banners that read, “Youth reclaiming our future,” “Our voices count” and “No liberation without revolution.” They collected donations of canned goods and
handed out free food, cider and hand warmers. Freedom Fighters Coalition, a local group described as anti-capitalist and anti-hate, and Sunrise Boston, the city’s chapter of the nationwide Sunrise Movement for climate justice, organized the rally with several other community groups. Peterson, whose organization promotes civic engagement, initiated a chant among the crowd: “Together we stand, divided we fall.” He said it is important to push Boston officials to enact reforms such as renaming Faneuil Hall, which has historical ties to the slave trade. “We stand here tonight with our heads high,” Peterson said. “We stand knowing that there is a bright side somewhere. We can win. We
stand here knowing that we can foster a greater democracy, we can foster a society where racism is put down.” Liora Silkes, an organizer with Sunrise Boston, said after months of campaigning and endorsements, the organization is committed to continuing its fight for progressive causes. “That’s why we’re gathering here,” Silkes said, “to make sure that we’re celebrating what we’ve done so far, and that we’re in community for whatever may come in the future.” Lloyd Clarke, a Malden resident, said the speakers’ words about police violence and systemic racism against Black Americans made him concerned for the future of the country. “The next few days, even though one of the two ends up being president, I feel like there’s going to be
some problems down the road,” Clarke said of the election. “We should, as a community, eliminate these problems by voicing and addressing these issues.” Maren Wilson, a science teacher at Boston Public Schools, said she feels “a little bit in limbo” about the week following the election and is expecting both anger and support for justice as results are revealed. “I’ve been having a lot of conversations with students, and it’s kind of hard to toe the line of processing on my own and then also processing with 10-year-olds,” said Wilson, who resides in Jamaica Plain. “It’s a really hard moment to think forward, but I think it’s really powerful to be listening to people who are still thinking forward.”
Voters reject statewide ranked-choice voting QUESTIONS, FROM PAGE 1 the Commonwealth’s attorney general to provide information to vehicle owners and lessees about telematics systems, according to the state information packet on Tuesday’s ballot questions. Although it may require efforts by the Commonwealth to educate prospective and current car owners on new rules, the law will pose no fiscal consequences on the government as a result of its passing, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of State. Massachusetts residents also voted on whether to pass ranked-choice voting in the state. The bill, which failed, would have implemented a ranked-choice system of voting for primary and general elections starting in 2022. If the bill had passed, the Secretary of State would have been responsible for issuing regulations and educating voters about the new process, according to the ballot questions packet. RCV would not apply in elections for president, county commissioner or regional district school committee members.
In the proposed ranked-choice system, voters express their relative support for candidates by ordering them on the ballot rather than voting for a single candidate. One candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote to win the election. If 50 percent of the vote is not immediately won by any one candidate, voter choice begins to make up extra percentage points. If other rounds are required, candidates are eliminated from the race based on who received the fewest first-choice votes. If a voter chose an eliminated candidate as their first choice, their second-choice candidate would move up into first place. A tie for last place in any round is broken by comparing the tied candidates’ support in previous rounds. Cambridge is among more than 20 municipalities in the country that has adopted some form of RCV. Nearby Maine also voted to implement RCV statewide in 2018 — making it the first state to use the method in a presidential election. Paul Craney, a spokesperson for Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, which opposed RCV, said the system creates
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LAURYN ALLEN | DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Proponents of ranked-choice voting hold signs advocating for the measure, which failed to pass Tuesday as Question 2.
a “fake majority.” Craney also said although some claim RCV eliminates disparaging campaign rhetoric, this belief has historically proven false. Mudslinging tactics continued in Maine the same year it implemented RCV, Craney said, but this type of campaigning was conducted by Super PACs instead of the candidates themselves.
“Under ranked choice, it just means someone else does the negative campaigning,” Craney said. “If you think it’s important that candidates don’t go negative with each other, fine, but don’t think that under ranked choice it won’t happen.” However, proponents argue ranked-choice systems do give greater weight to independent candidates. Evan Falchuk, a 2014 independent
candidate for Massachusetts governor, said voters are already used to ranking options because they do so frequently in their daily lives. “We hear a lot from voters that they feel like they have to hold their nose and vote for the lesser of two evils,” Falchuk told The Daily Free Press in October. “One thing rankedchoice voting does is it levels the playing field.”
BU faculty, employers grant leniency to students who take Election Day off to vote Anne Jonas Daily Free Press Staff Students who hoped to abstain from classes or work in order to vote in person and engage in other civic activities Tuesday were permitted to do so after clearing the absence with their professor or supervisor. BU spokesperson Colin Riley said the University follows the same policy on voting as it does on other activities that would require students to miss class. “We’re all adults and we need to make adult decisions,” Riley said. “If there are important things in life, whether they’re family matters, civic matters such as the election, communicate that with the people who are expecting you if you anticipate a time issue.” Dean Stan Sclaroff of the College of Arts and Sciences sent a note Oct. 20 to faculty encouraging them to accommodate student voters this year by allowing asynchronous attendance and avoiding holding exams on Election Day. President Robert Brown had also sent a letter Oct. 14 to on-campus supervisors asking them to offer workers “adequate” time off, without dipping into vacation time, if they needed to vote in person. Staff members were encouraged to share their Election Day plans with their supervisor beforehand. Student-athletes across all sports teams also saw zero required activ-
ities on Tuesday, Brittany Kane, senior associate director of Athletics, wrote in an email. College of Communication Dean Mariette DiChristina said civic participation is important and encouraged within the BU community. “It’s really important that we all engage in the society that we want to see,” DiChristina said, “and the changes we want to see through our selections of candidates.” The mental and emotional challenges that have arisen from the pandemic and recent waves of civil unrest are all the more reason for faculty to be more understanding of students’ needs, DiChristina said. “While holidays are established centrally by the BU administration,” DiChristina said, “we’ve suggested to faculty that they be as flexible as they can.” A student petition asking BU to make Election Day a University holiday for every federal election year starting in 2022 has been circulating since early October, but the administration has not taken official action on the request. COM, like CAS, had also recommended faculty be flexible with giving students the day off to head to the polls. The ability to offer that opportunity — by posting recorded lectures for later viewing — demonstrates the way BU’s Learn from Anywhere modality “puts students first,” DiChristina added. Christopher Moore, dean of the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, wrote in an email
that a request from an anti-racist focus group within Sargent prompted the college to record all Tuesday classes and allow students who missed class to request a recording. “The faculty involved in teaching these classes felt that it was important that students do not feel there are any barriers to voting,” Moore wrote. Similarly, Dean Natalie McKnight of the College of General Studies wrote in an email she had asked CGS faculty to make attendance policies
“The faculty involved in teaching these classes felt that it was important that students do not feel there are any barriers to voting.” flexible for Election Day to accomodate for long lines at polling places. The College of Fine Arts, meanwhile, taught classes as normal Tuesday. However, Dean Harvey Young wrote in an email all required non-curricular activities, such as rehearsals, across CFA’s schools and BU Bands were canceled. As for the School of Law, students saw all classes canceled on Election Day, Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig
wrote in an email. “Lawyers have a long history of guarding and honoring the democratic process,” Onwuachi-Willing wrote, “and the faculty wanted to give law students, themselves, and other members in our community the opportunity to do just that on Election Day.” Many of the law school’s students and faculty, Onwuachi-Willig added, volunteered Tuesday as election workers or poll watchers. Professor Kim McCall, chair of the Biology Department, said though she is not teaching any classes this semester, she had canceled all meetings with students working in her lab on Election Day to better enable them to vote or volunteer, as well as to “just deal with” the circumstances of the day. Election Day had been on the minds of many faculty in the department since summer. In early August, professor Karen Warkentin and assistant professor Sarah Davies sent a petition to Brown, Provost Jean Morrison and Sclaroff asking that they make Election Day a “non-instructional” day for students. The petition, signed by 12 members of the Biology Department, aimed to “send a clear message to our students that [faculty] value democracy.” The civic duty of voting should not be blocked by fears of missing class due to long lines, the petition stated. Warkentin wrote in the petition student volunteers at polling stations would be essential in this election, es-
pecially in making sure older adults who are at high risk for COVID-19 do not have to let health concerns “outweigh their desire to contribute to democracy.” “We believe that this would be a timely move that would place Boston University on the right side of history,” Warkentin wrote in the petition. Eunice Lamothe, a junior in CAS, said she was “disappointed” BU did not make Election Day a University holiday, especially because this year’s political climate amplified the importance of participating in a representative democracy, she said. “It’s a lot to expect that a student will have to take those steps on their own to go vote,” Lamothe said, “especially when voting should be part of our routine.” COM senior Daniela Tellechea said she voted by mail this election — like many BU students historically do, according to Riley. After her California absentee ballot was lost in the mail, Tellechea said she cast her ballot using a Remote Accessible Vote-By-Mail system, which allows voters to select a compatible technology that works best for them — a fax machine in Tellechea’s case. Tellechea said she thinks Election Day should be a national holiday. In-person voters in this election, she said, carried a “safety net” of votes to compensate for many across the country who also experienced voteby-mail complications. “I don’t know what’s going on with the vote by mail right now,” Tellechea said, “which is really scary.”
THALIA LAUZON | DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Students traveling in and out of a polling location at Kilachand Hall, a residence on Boston University’s campus. BU faculty and employers granted leniency to students who planned to take Election Day off.
CAMPUS CALENDAR WEDNESDAY, NOV. 4
THURSDAY, NOV. 5
FRIDAY, NOV. 6
SATURDAY, NOV. 7
SUNDAY, NOV. 8
Discuss the Election
Domestic Violence during COVID-19
Election 2020: A First Look Back
OB Online Showcase
4:15 p.m. Zoom Hosted by the BU School of Law and Department of Political Science
7 p.m. Zoom Hosted by BU On Broadway
Sunday Interdenominational Worship Service
Multiple times Zoom and in-person Hosted by Dean of Students
6 p.m. Zoom Hosted by CGSA and SARP
11 a.m. Zoom Hosted by Marsh Chapel
Students innovate for remote canvassing
GRAPHIC BY LAURYN ALLEN | DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
The pandemic has forced students in political campaigns to rely on phone banking and texting to reach potential voters.
Nick Kolev Daily Free Press Staff Now that knocking on doors is an outreach strategy of the past, students working for local and national political campaigns have had to get creative. But the shift, some said, has produced unexpected advantages alongside the challenges. Victoria Fernandez, a sophomore in the College of General Studies, volunteered as a campaign worker for Democratic canvassing organization Progressive Turnout Project. Fernandez said the pandemic forced the team to reinvent its outreach strategy. Fernandez said she had previously canvassed and gone door-to-door for Donna Shalala, a U.S. congressional candidate in the 2018 federal midterm elections. This year, Fernandez said, she had
planned to canvass for Democrats through the same organization. “They had to keep pushing the date that we would start the field operations for months, until it went to August,” Fernandez said. “They were like, ‘Honestly, at this point, it’s kind of hopeless that we will turn back to normal life and the normal way that we’re used to campaigning.’” As a result, the organization was forced to pivot from in-person canvassing to phone banking and letter-writing. The transition, she said, posed a variety of new challenges. “Once you’re used to doing this as your main strategy for years,” Fernandez said, “you have to completely reinvent the way that you see things.” Fernandez said canvassing in person is the most important and efficient way to reach out to voters, because it allows workers to engage in meaningful conversation, which
can be difficult to accomplish on the phone. Still, phone banking has made it easier to reach voters in other states where the candidate needs campaign help, she said. “It has a good side as well, just because everything’s virtual now, but it’s definitely hard to think about all those meaningful conversations that people used to have with voters,” Fernandez said. “People are just like, ‘No, leave me alone.’” Anthony Buono, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, volunteered for New York State Assembly candidate Michael Marcantonio over the summer. Like Fernandez, Buono said his campaign switched to phone banking. Because this is a method typically done closer to the election date, the group had to ramp up creativity in strategy. The campaign also organized a mutual aid program under
Marcantonio’s name to “keep his name in the community.” Campaigners reached out to constituents in the district to offer assistance, Buono said, or to ask if they were willing to help by participating in the program. Lawyers and accountants on staff reached out to community members to offer legal and financial assistance, and campaign workers also delivered groceries to elderly people. Buono said this helped Marcantonio gain high popularity among elderly voters, making the mutual aid program a “really, really good” campaign strategy. In this way, Buono said, the pandemic enabled the campaign to use creativity to its advantage while also helping to connect people through empathy. “I think the pandemic, even though we’re all socially distanced, brought my community back on Long Island much closer together,” Buono said. “When you call up that mom who has three kids, who’s juggling this whole life, and then she’s still able to say, ‘Yes I’m willing to help with the mutual aid group,’ that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for [COVID-19].” Buono said although this particular campaign strategy has died down now that people “care much less” about the pandemic, it provided a memorable experience. “People have COVID fatigue,” Buono said. “But during those first couple months, it was really something special.” Vivian Dai, a freshman in CAS, worked for two city council campaigns in California: Jake Tonkel for San Jose and John Lashlee for Mountain View. Dai said Tonkel’s campaign was also largely focused on phone banking, with few workers going door-to-door. The small groups who do canvass in person typically consisted of Tonkel himself along with senior campaign volunteers. Canvassers were typically met with warmth during their pandemicera canvassing efforts, Dai said. Most residents don’t answer their doors, she said, but those who do were often receptive. “People have actually been nicer than we expected when it comes to
door-knocking,” Dai said. “A lot of people won’t be seriously offended like, ‘Oh, you’re endangering myself and my family, go away.’” Dai said she also noticed an increased enthusiasm for local politics among young people this year. In the wake of social movements across the country, along with many college students staying in their hometowns, more young voters were asking for information on their municipal representatives. “I think, in general, people have become more engaged,” Dai said. “Whether or not that engagement actually leads to tangible change remains to be seen.” For CAS freshman Arlo Hatcher, phone banking for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey’s campaign, among others, showed him this year’s voters were generally more willing to converse on the phone. While he said this may be because people have more time now that they’re often stuck at home, he attributes this mainly to the general perception that the 2020 election has “really high stakes.” “For a lot of people, their lives have been relatively unaffected by politics in the past,” Hatcher said. “They’re now starting to get affected and starting to have to care a little more.” BU also contributed its resources to students interested in political action this election round. Jason Campbell-Foster, senior associate dean of students, said the tents set up by the University on the BU Beach and in front of the Joan and Edgar Booth Theatre will be in place for student use through at least Friday. “Massachusetts has carved out exceptions for gatherings because of political expression,” CampbellFoster said. “We are providing students with covered spaces where they can come together, share their thoughts, engage with one another.” Campbell-Foster added the University might leave the tents up for longer if students express a need. “The safest way to engage with political conversation is to use these outdoor spaces that we’ll be providing,” Campbell-Foster said. Melissa Ellin contributed to the reporting of this article.
Independent candidates challenge Mass. incumbents to push non-establishment ideas Allison Pirog Daily Free Press Staff Voters casting their ballot this election may have noticed some unfamiliar names. Three independent candidates ran for U.S. Congress in Massachusetts this election to challenge the status quo and highlight issues they are passionate about. Independent Jon Lott, who ran against Democratic incumbent Rep. Stephen Lynch in Massachusetts’ 8th congressional district, said he ran out of concern for lack of action on pressing environmental issues. “Our planet is at the edge of ecological collapse, and nobody else was challenging our congressperson in the general election,” Lott said. “I just couldn’t stand by and do nothing about it.” Elected officials must address climate change, Lott said, even if they do not want to draw attention to issues that may elicit panic. “For others, it just doesn’t serve their interests,” Lott said, “or they just want to kick the can down the road and they expect that someone else will be in power when the system finally collapses.” Lott ran for Massachusetts Senate in 2016, and earned about 23 percent
of the vote. He said he would not have run if another “credible” candidate had challenged Lynch. Some people trust independent candidates more, Lott said, while others dismiss voting for independent candidates because they wish to remain loyal to their established political party. Many of Lott’s supporters first noticed him when they saw his name on the ballot, he said. They then chose to vote for him after looking into his candidate platform. Lott said he hopes Question 2, which proposes statewide rankedchoice voting, passes so people who vote for independent and third-party candidates will no longer feel their vote is wasted. “It’s never a waste if you just vote [with] your heart,” Lott said. Anyone dissatisfied with the state of government as it currently stands should run for office, Lott said, along with anyone who aims for more representation or wants more to dip their toes into politics. “It’s not easy, but you got to start somewhere,” Lott said. “You can’t win if you don’t try.” Candidate Mike Manley, a retired softball coach, ran against incumbent Democrat Rep. Bill Keating and Re-
publican Helen Brady in the 9th congressional district. He said he ran to serve as “somebody in the middle.” “As a 72-year-old guy, senior citizen, I don’t think I’ve been represented by either party,” Manley said. “The Democratic Party is turning socialist, and the Republican Party, they just like to fight among themselves.” Manley said he is anti-abortion and believes increasing child literacy rates can help reduce crime. He said too many politicians strictly follow their party’s platform. “It seems like every Democratic candidate that’s in office now said the same exact thing,” Manley said. “It seems like they just wrote out a script and said, ‘Say this.’ It’s unbelievable.” Manley said he tells his softball players they can never lie to themselves, advice he wishes politicians would follow. Massachusetts voters are an “automatic D” or “automatic R,” Manley said, because they often choose candidates based on party affiliation instead of research. “More people research buying a microwave oven or a toaster instead of researching the candidates,” Manley said. “They’re uninformed. They’re lazy.”
Manley said media coverage often focuses only on those running under a major party, and does not offer a platform to non-establishment candidates. “You have to give independents a voice,” Manley said. “There’s a lot of times I read articles about the 9th congressional district and they only list two people.” Money spent on expensive campaigns would be better used helping lower-income individuals meet food and housing costs, Manley said. His campaign has spent $1,400 on the race since it began. Although no former independent candidates responded to Manley’s requests for advice, he said he is willing to offer guidance to future candidates who choose to run independently. Roy Owens is running as an independent in the 7th congressional district against Democratic incumbent Rep. Ayanna Pressley. Owens has run for other offices over the years, including the Massachusetts Senate, Boston City Council and Massachusetts House of Representatives. Though he has not yet won a race, he said he continues to run for office as an independent because the country’s founders had warned against establishing political parties: former
President George Washington had discouraged partisanship, for example, in his presidential farewell address. “They did not want to have a party, such as Democrats, Republican Party,” Owens said. “They didn’t want parties because they become dictatorships.” News outlets have also given Owens’ campaign less attention than his opponent, he said. “We don’t get no help from the media,” Owens said. “You can’t even find a good truth on the media. You’re better off without even having the media today.” Like Lott, Owen said he believes more citizens should run for office, because too many people criticize their elected officials instead of taking action. Owens, a pastor, said Christians should vote for “what’s right” instead of for candidates who fall under any specific party affiliation. Taking action by entering a race to advocate for what one believes in is more important than winning the election itself, Owens added. “I’m not winning,” Owens said. “I’m standing for what’s right. When people think about Christ, they crucified him, but he stood for what’s right.”
Pandemic-era Election Day unfolds in
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An Election Day sign outside a polling location in Government Center.
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A sign behind a window reminds potential demonstrators of their rights.
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Workers board up the windows of shops along Newbury Street in preparation for potential post-election protests.
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A voter enters a polling station through a gate showcasing campaign signs.
Celtics employees cheer voters Tuesday morning. They traveled to poll sites across Boston to applaud people for voting.
n Boston amid push for social change
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People wait in line and check in to vote at the Higginson-Lewis K-8 School.
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The founder of Blue Crime Blue Dime speaks about police accountability and systemic inequality.
A line of voters, spaced out for social distancing, stretches around the block.
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Massachusetts voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Boston Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kilachand Hall.
A look at how Boston businesses prepared for potential post-election tumult Allison Pirog Daily Free Press Staff On the eve of Election Day, residents saw storefronts boarded up across Boston as businesses prepared for property damage and looting in the aftermath of Tuesday night. The precautions came after civil rights protests this year, in Boston and nationwide, had turned destructive at times. Betsy Jenney, owner of Newbury Street boutique Betsy Jenney, said she had prepared to remove all items from the mannequins on display, pull a metal grid across her window and use a padlock to protect her store in case of unrest on election night. The boutique had planned to remain open Tuesday, but Jenney said she would stay alert and cautious. “If something should be going on in the street and we don’t like what we see,” Jenney said, “we can lock the door and pull that grid across.” ROYCE’ Chocolate Boston, also located on Newbury Street, had not decided whether it would close for Election Day as of Monday afternoon, according to sales associate Jay Rieza. The chocolatier’s landlord was considering boarding up the shop’s windows, Rieza said. The store had done so during this summer’s protests in response to police brutality, and the building was not damaged. Among those who opted not to make special preparations was Bob Bacco, owner of Bacco’s Wine and Cheese. “I have faith in my fellow Americans that we’re going to make the right choice and we’re
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Businesses on Newbury Street board up their storefronts in preparation for potential post-election protests on the streets.
not going to overreact,” Bacco said. His store was looted during protests earlier this year, which Bacco said resulted in more than $150,000 in damages and product loss. Boston Properties, which owns the Prudential Center, had increased security measures at the high-rise mall to prepare for what may come during demonstrations, according to an email that circulated on Reddit. The Prudential Center had placed boarding and barriers on its property to prevent looting, but the Boylston Street and Huntington Avenue entrances remained open.
The company was prepared to remain in contact with the Boston Police Department and Boston Regional Intelligence Center to stay informed about activity in the neighborhood, the email stated. South End Business Alliance President Elizabeth Beutel said SEBA had contacted its members, reminding them to stay informed and to take preventative measures if necessary. Beutel had encouraged businesses to address building weaknesses, including inadequate lighting, poorly positioned security cameras and window displays in public view. SEBA recognizes the differ-
ence between a protester and a looter, Beutel said. “We like everything to be respectful,” Beutel said. “These are small businesses. These are your local neighbors.” Small businesses would also need community members to be vigilant, she said. “If they feel that there were trespassers, they should get in touch with the police department, dial 911,” Beutel said. “They shouldn’t take anything in their own hands.” Back Bay Association President Meg Mainzer-Cohen said the BBA had instructed its members to perform their own security assessments.
She said businesses should have removed outdoor tables, chairs and other similar furnishings. The BBA had kept in contact with the City of Boston regarding possible disturbances on election night and found no reason to expect violence, she said. Some BBA members had chosen to board up their businesses and have been especially cautious since the looting that occurred this summer, Mainzer-Cohen added. “There’s almost like a hyper-vigilance going on as anything is happening,” Mainzer-Cohen said, “whether it’s an anti-vax march, whether it’s just different demonstrations.” Mayor Marty Walsh at a press conference Monday urged those who wished to take action after the election to protest peacefully. “Please respect the right of others to have an opinion and respect your city and your community as we move forward over these next few days,” Walsh said. “If you feel the need to speak out directly, do it safely and do it constructively.” Though Walsh said the City was “cautiously optimistic” the election would pass without damage to businesses, he asked residents to call 311 if they saw anything suspicious. The results of the election would likely trigger strong emotions from all sides, Walsh said. “There’s a great deal of tension around the election, more than I’ve ever seen or ever felt in my lifetime,” Walsh said. “It’s OK to have emotions. There’s a lot at stake, but we must take care of ourselves, our families, our communities and we must respond peacefully.”
Once in a decade: purpose, impacts of census Rachel Do Daily Free Press Staff The 2020 U.S. census has closed, and the demographic data collected this year will shape the landscape of political representation in the country for another decade. The census, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every 10 years, counts all residents in the United States. It primarily works to manage existing congressional districts and to understand demographic information.
Maxwell Palmer, an assistant professor of political science at Boston University, said the census informs apportionment — the determination of the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives — and attempts to ensure districts have equal population and sorting. Each state has at least one House seat, with 435 total seats in the chamber. Palmer the distribution may change: states whose populations grow faster are likely to earn more seats, while those whose growth remain stagnant might lose seats. The redrawing principle,
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Data collected from the U.S. census will shape state representation for a decade.
which changes the geographical areas represented by a particular legislative district, ensures the population of different districts is weighted, and therefore represented, equally, Palmer said. This year’s census was completed by Oct. 15, and states will receive redistricting counts by April 1 of next year. When it comes to Tuesday’s election, Palmer said, the census had little effect. “The 2020 Census doesn’t really impact this election, because it affects the districts and apportionment in the next election,” Palmer said. “This election is affected by the 2010 Census for the apportionment of congressional seats then.” The census is also meant to help the federal government distribute funding to services such as public education and other government programs. Because it determines where money is mostly needed, Palmer said, if the census is undercounted in a certain district or a state, less funding, and thus services, will be offered to residents. Megan Lau, a sophomore in BU’s College of General Studies, worked at California Rep. Judy Chu’s office during her gap semester in 2019, where she said she worked on census awareness.
Lau said during this time of political polarization, filling out the census is one action people can take to make their voices heard. “It’s your right as a citizen of the U.S.,” Lau said, “and I think that you should extend that so that you can be a part of a political decision-making, even if it starts out at the local and state level.” Thomas Silver, a sophomore in BU’s College of Arts and Sciences, worked as a census enumerator this fall, meaning he went door-to-door collecting census data, typically in communities where citizens had yet to fill out the census. Silver applied for the position in March and began working in August at home in New York, then continued to work in Boston upon returning to campus in the Fall. He said collecting census data is important because it directly impacts communities for a long time. “There’s so much decision-making that happens based on census data,” Silver said. “Officials look at data about people’s ages, races, how population has changed, in what parts of the country since the last census, and use that for a lot of policy decisions.” Palmer said although there will
likely be litigation over the results of the 2020 Census — concerning undocumented immigrants especially — once those issues are resolved, people will forget about the census again until 2029. Lau said introducing the process of the census and helping younger Americans understand how it works may help bring clarity to the government system and ensure people take it seriously. “I think that if you start with trying to spread that civil engagement and outreach among 16, 17, 18 year olds, that may prove to be beneficial,” Lau said, “because it’s our future, and we want to be living in a future that looks at our best interests.” Undocumented immigrants, a population heavily impacted by these policies, should be taught about the census before they attain their citizenship, Lau said, because community funding is greatly determined by demographics. “By not reporting yourself if you’re in this type of vulnerable or targeted community, I think that can be very detrimental to the resources that are available to you,” Lau said. “It’s a ripple effect for generations and generations, which I think we’ve seen in some communities that have lower recorded census numbers.”
Pandemic tosses new curveballs to journalists covering presidential election Caroline Bowden Daily Free Press Staff “Unprecedented” has become the word of the year since the beginning of March, as all aspects of life have faced some level of upheaval. Presidential elections are no exception, according to journalists who covered the race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden leading up to Election Day. A panel of Boston University alumni — all working journalists — gathered to offer insight into the historic nature of presidential election coverage in a virtual panel Saturday entitled “An Election Like No Other: Journalists Share Final Thoughts,” hosted by the College of Communication. Kimberly Atkins, who graduated from COM and BU’s School of Law in 1998, is the senior opinion writer at The Boston Globe. Atkins said during the discussion journalists have been catching various curveballs since the 2016 election. The COVID-19 pandemic haunts the majority of the political conversations in 2020, Atkins said. In past years, the issues at the top of voters’ minds may have been the economy, immigration or education, but now the coronavirus permeates conversations at the local and national levels. “The pandemic has affected everyone in some way,” Atkins said during the panel. “For the incumbent president, the federal response to the pan-
demic is the biggest issue for those people voting against Donald Trump, voting for Joe Biden. One of the top issues is that it is a referendum on the federal response to the pandemic.” Kristin Fisher, a Fox News correspondent and 2005 COM alumna, described the ups and downs of covering the White House for a major news channel. For many journalists covering the campaigns, Fisher said, daily life during the pandemic is still very much face-to-face, a challenge that forces many to weigh personal health and safety against their dedication to their work. “I never in a million years imagined that I would feel so uncomfortable and have to have some really difficult conversations with my husband about going out and covering these kinds of events,” Fisher said during the panel. “We made the decision that it was important enough for me to go ahead and take that risk like so many other members of the White House press corps.” Besides the new normal of public health precautions, this election cycle brought a variety of new challenges to the public and the press, the panelists said, including understanding the vote-tallying process and anticipating legal challenges, similar to those that followed the 2000 election, if results are contested in some states after Tuesday. Atkins said social media is an example of a breeding ground for disinformation, and complicates the
nature of an election. “It shows the difficulty in the social media age to deal with misinformation,” Atkins said, “especially when that misinformation is embraced by elected officials, by candidates who are running for office and even by the president of the United States.” Fred Bayles is the former director of the BU Statehouse Program — an internship through which students are connected to news outlets in Massachusetts to cover government and politics. Bayles said social media poses a disadvantage to journalists seeking an accurate reading of public opinion. Bayles said in an interview that face-to-face interactions between reporters and their sources typically offer more context and randomized sampling in the field, while social media tends to amplify the loudest voices. “There’s a lot of studies that show that a majority of Americans are not radical left or radical right. They’re in the middle, and the people engaging on social media are really more of the ideologists,” Bayles said. “So I would not trust social media as a replacement for [in-person interactions].” Critics of 2016 election coverage often point to off-target polling, which resulted in a surprising finish to the presidential race when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, the candidate polls had favored at the time.
Panelist Steve Kornacki, a national political correspondent for NBC News and a 2001 COM alumnus, dug into the nuances of political polling and the various paths to victory each candidate may follow. He recalled the efforts of political journalists calculating all possible election night outcomes, even if the result of the 2016 race was ultimately surprising. Pollsters in 2020, Kornacki said, are more cautious in calling the race even when poll leads are substantial. On Election Day, Biden averaged 8.4 points ahead of Trump in national polling, according to political polling aggregation site FiveThirtyEight. In some battleground states, the two candidates were neck-and-neck, with Trump polling 0.8 points above Biden in Ohio and 1.3 points above in Iowa. As of 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, Biden led Trump by 1.6 percent for all states that have already been called. BU journalism professor Chris Daly said in an interview the nature of the news cycle often forces journalists to publish only the most essential points of their political analyses, sometimes carved down to a headline or short broadcast package. “Sometimes, if you have to write a headline, if you have to write a teaser for your next segment,” Daly said, “well, you may have to throw some of that detail and qualifications overboard and just say, ‘Hey, landslide?’”
Presidential debates have also caused controversy this year, Kornacki said during the event — although that may be credited more to the media’s dissection and analysis of the first debate, which became hostile at multiple points. But Fisher said presidential debates would likely remain a tradition in American politics, despite the two on Sept. 29 and Oct. 22 — which were immediately subject to public mockery for having resembled reality TV more so than civil discourse. Atkins said debates have been lacking in recent years, which is evidenced by the logistical issue of hosting record numbers of candidates on one stage during the 2016 Republican primary and 2020 Democratic primary. It was predicted that final results would not be available for days after the election this year. As of Wednesday morning, seven states have not been called for either candidate — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada and Alaska — leaving 87 electoral votes still up for grabs. Atkins said this uncertainty means voters have to wait for full results to come in, especially because of the president’s efforts to invalidate the voting process this year. “They should be prepared not to be alarmed by anyone,” Atkins said, “including the president of the United States saying that the vote, because it isn’t known completely on election night, can’t be trusted.”
Late-night comedies joke on election madness The Late Show with Stephen Colbert by Molly Farrar Stephen Colbert is not a fan of President Donald Trump. The weeknight show takes every opportunity to poke fun at the president, from Colbert’s spot-on impression to interviewing critical Democratic candidates on live television. This year’s election special aired on SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. Tuesday and took the candidates’ slogans as a satirical stab at the election itself. The teaser for “Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand: Building Back America Great Again Better 2020” includes Colbert in a face mask, measuring out 6 feet of distance and joking about the future of America — or the lack of one. Colbert’s 2016 election special saw his planned jokes — based on predictions of a Hillary Clinton presidency — immediately lose relevance in the wake of Trump’s victory. This time, Colbert had prepared his election special for both results, taking the satire and comedy out of a potentially damaging election result. Colbert’s special included live updates of CBS’s “America Decides” with Norah O’Donnell, John Dickerson, Gayle King and Margaret Brennan. Colbert was virtually connected to the panel, and he cracked some jokes while asking solid questions to get legitimate election results, adding a lighter air than the rest of CBS News’ coverage. In many respects, Colbert is done with the jokes. After choosing not to watch this year’s Republican National Convention, he said on his show: “Why should we pay attention to what they’re saying if none of what they’re saying tonight is about what’s happening in America right now?
Why should we watch their reality show if it doesn’t reflect our reality?” His show also had a type of informality — Colbert chatted with off-camera crew members during his audience-less show, giving a sense of humanness and honesty on a hectic election night full of questions. With f-bombs, celebrity guests and Colbert’s own full personality, his special didn’t disappoint. Colbert’s special on Tuesday night was filled with comedy, satire and a sizable dose of seriousness along with political analysis to tie his show together throughout the turbulent election night, week or weeks. Late Night with Seth Meyers by Jonas Hayes Seth Meyers, former host of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, has been hosting “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on NBC since 2014.
His show is not unlike other latenight shows — his guests are either entertainment celebrities or sports stars, with the occasional politician. When the pandemic began, Meyers moved his show into his home, but recently returned to a studio without an audience. His “A Closer Look” segment aims to break down complex political issues, and has recently examined the presidential election, debates, Trump’s rallies and the president’s handling of the pandemic. Meyers, who openly supports the Democratic Party, is no stranger to criticizing and poking fun at the GOP. He finds humor in the webs spun by political leaders to rile up the masses. While Meyers didn’t host a special on Tuesday, he covered the activities of Trump and his close campaign members leading up to election night
in Monday’s installment entitled, “The 2020 Election Is Here — and Trump Is Trying to Steal It: A Closer Look” The segment does put the election into perspective, but barely. The content is reflective of a normal night during the Trump presidency, in which Meyers uses his Trump impression often as a punchline. He spent much time on Trump’s pure ridiculousness, rather than the complexities and predicted results for the next day’s election. Meyers really gets a laugh when he lets Trump speak for himself. He calls out the president’s mindless rambles at rallies and his mob-like crowd of followers, while addressing Trump’s claims of voter fraud and what we’ll know on election night. He ends on a more serious note, simply saying, “This is our chance to put an end to the cruelty, the abuses
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The Late Show with Stephen Colbert aired its election special Tuesday night, complete with f-bombs and celebrity guests.
of power and the criminal neglect.” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver by Cameron Morsberger Comedian John Oliver has talked about coronavirus on television a handful of times this year, and his election coverage was no different. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” aired its last episode before Election Day on Sunday — a twopart installment, the first part in which Oliver discussed Trump’s response to the coronavirus. The episode, which premiered on HBO but is free to watch on YouTube, featured an in-depth look on how the president has handled the COVID-19 pandemic since its arrival to the U.S. In his usual fashion, Oliver showed humorous photoshopped pictures to lighten topics of upsetting statistics or concerning testimonials from Trump supporters. For example, before sharing that the U.S., despite making up four percent of the global population, contains a fifth of the world’s coronavirus cases and projecting a video of people defending Trump’s pandemic response, Oliver made a joke about Trump hypothetically dispersing his urine as “immunity juice,” gearing his audience up for the rest of the upsetting realities that await this year. Oliver reminds viewers of Trump’s countless early missteps in his reaction to COVID-19, outlining his preparation, coordination and communication — or lack thereof. Despite being a comedian, Oliver and his research team present sources and quotes upfront on screen after nearly every fact Oliver shares, morphing the program more so into news commentary than a comedic bit. Like other prominent late night hosts, Oliver is passionate in his antiTrump messaging, and presents a damning case against the president.
ONE ISSUE, TWO SIDES True progressives cannot be friends with conservatives
Bini Yamin Columnist The few days preceding the election have felt like purgatory. Questions of what the future will look like are abounding — what is in store for our country and planet? But those questions are far too significant to discuss. For now, let’s think about something a little more menial and specific: liberals with conservative friends. What will life be like for them after the election? This topic may seem insignificant, but the question really bothers me. A lot of people claim President Donald Trump has polarized this country, but in some respects, I feel he’s made it clear how centralized it actually is. If he’s divided this country in two — those who think he’s a good person, and those who don’t — then those two groups would fully merge political ideologies of people who would not normally consider themselves ideologically similar. Sure, liberals and Trump supporters have stark differences. But the line between conservatives who hate Trump and liberals who like conservatives is becoming all the more blurry, and I think that’s a bad thing. I’m talking about those conservatives who adamantly say they’re not Trump supporters. The kind of conservatives who claim to be “pure” — the non-racist kind — who only believe in tax cuts for the wealthy. And an expanded police force. And increased immigration restrictions. And cuts on social welfare programs. But don’t worry, they’re not racist or greedy. They just want to keep all the money they stole from working-class people and continue to be racist and xenophobic in indirect ways, such as expanding the war on drugs or gerrymandering. They’re quirky like that. Anyway, it’s this type of conservative whom liberals are friends with or, at the very least, friendly toward. Take the Lincoln Project — a right-wing think tank dedicated to criticizing Trump — whose mission is noble, but whose purpose and ideological aims are corrupt outside of their criticisms of Trump. Just because conservatives are not voting for a racist doesn’t mean they’re good people. My point is, if my desired election outcome occurs — which I am too afraid to name for fear I will curse it — a degree of polarization is
necessary. It is reductive to pretend conservatives who hate Trump are not just as ideologically corrupt and greedy as any other Trump supporter. Take the whole Chris Pratt debacle for instance. After it was revealed Pratt supported a homophobic church and followed white supremacists on Instagram, a portion of the Avengers cast came to Pratt’s defense and stated he was “apolitical” and just a good “Christian.” Those who excused Pratt included wellknown liberals such as Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. Their defense of Pratt is indicative of the extent to which depolarization is dangerous. If your friend follows PragerU on Instagram, dump them. It’s that easy. I’ve blocked people on Instagram for following Camila Cabello before, so surely blocking someone for following a white supremacist meme page is less extreme. Take for instance, this New York Times bestselling author’s tweet: “I had an email exchange with a smart, wealthy conservative friend, lamenting how horrible the GOP has become & how I can’t respect acquaintances or friends who will vote for this nightmare just for tax cuts. His reply and this is from a guy who benefits from cuts - is glorious: ‘Any true conservative is no longer a Republican (and I include myself in that group). Conservatives stand for: * fiscal responsibility * democratic institutions * honesty * personal honor and integrity * science * smart immigration * loyalty to allies and strong foreign alliances * etc., etc. ...’” Take notice of how utterly devoid of content this allegedly “glorious” email is. What does “smart immigration” even mean? It also says some characteristics of conservatives are honesty, personal honor, integrity and science. When did Republicans start consistently standing for honesty or personal honor? Was it with former President Richard Nixon when he bugged the Democratic National Committee? George W. Bush when he started a war and killed thousands of women and children? The email is an embodiment of all the smoke screens these center-leaning conservatives and liberals employ to make it seem as if conservatism and neoliberalism are ideologies we should be friendly toward rather than diseases that should be done away with. Trump did not corrupt conservatism or the Republican Party. They were already corrupt, racist and entirely servicing the interests of the wealthy well before Trump became president. But of course, the same is true for the Democratic Party, because opposing Trump does not grant one moral absolution. Trump is not what is wrong with this country — what is wrong with this country is this country.
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Polarization is ruining our ability to function, progress
Colbi Edmonds Columnist American politics are polarized. Shocking news, I know. Everyone you talk to is either the radical Democrat trying to start a socialist revolution or the Republican trying to take away women’s rights. Each side picks the most divisive stance of the other and throws it as the kicker during an argument. In the current climate, if you are in any way associated with the two parties, you are aligning yourself with their extreme views. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn’t be that way. The extreme polarization of our political parties has eradicated the middle ground. We don’t have an in-between to walk on: it’s just a void. Without that common ground, you are forced to associate yourself with one of the poles so you’re not completely shunned from the factions. It’s always “you’re not liberal enough” or “you’re not conservative enough,” as if we are not nuanced beings capable of seeing either side. I often see this argument coming from those on the left who definitively announce they will not befriend a conservative, even one who doesn’t support President Donald Trump. One part of this problem is the lumping-together of conservatives and Trump supporters, which is the wrong move to make. Trump’s traditional posse is in a league of their own. And the far-right Trumpists are the truly scary bunch — the white supremacists who, in a way, seem as if they would rather live in the 1950s, when white supremacism was simply an accepted way of life. I find that Trump supporters are often aware of this preconceived notion and scoff at the idea of supporting racism, homophobia or any other unacceptable ideology. They couldn’t possibly subscribe to those behaviors, because in their minds, Trump is restoring our national morality. They’re simply in a bubble of their own form of conservatism, and despite what many think, conservatives who don’t agree can distance themselves from these people. Very liberal people may see conservatives and think of religious Southerners who vote for politicians who don’t support human rights. This mindset discounts the fact that you can vote outside of your party and paints progressive Democratic leaders as the pinnacle of per-
fection. Everyone loves to bring up former President George W. Bush’s rampage on the Middle East once he launched the war on terror, but let’s keep in mind who continued the war: former President Barack Obama. Regardless of party, a politician’s main goal is re-election. So, just as much as Republicans are wealthy politicians who sit back and serve their own self-interest, so are Democrats. At this point, it seems as if both sides would rather shoot crude jabs at one another on Twitter than effectively compromise on our most pressing issues. Additionally, we often forget our beliefs are constantly evolving. How unforgiving and arrogant is it to think that because you have been liberal your entire life, conservatives who may have voted for Trump or other Republicans in the past deserve no redemption? You are objectively saying you are a better person than they are because you vote Democrat. Though the Democratic Party — which, by the way, doesn’t lean far left enough by some progressives’ standards — does have a more progressive and inclusive platform, it is not free of corruption and greed, and treating it as such will only help its politicians evade accountability. Our political ideologies are based on our own sets of morals, and there exists no common blueprint of an objectively good person. Still, we are drifting farther away from a collective determination of what “good” is by further choosing to polarize each other. I understand the far-right’s agenda is frightening. I understand they overstep boundaries and are actively terrorizing our country. But despite their inhumane decisions, it is unproductive to completely outcast conservatives who are deciding to denounce those groups. There can still be a middle ground. There are conservatives who chose to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden. People are allowed to sit in the middle and make space for others who don’t want to hop on the Polar Express and head further away from that common ground we so desperately need in order to build unity in our country. We should promote the middle ground as a place where people can have productive conversations about the issues at hand. We have no need to kick people out of the conversation if they do not already hold exactly the same beliefs as ourselves. If that were the goal, then we immediately choose civil war before ever learning how to problem-solve together. This back and forth is exhausting. We must begin to humble ourselves and let go of the God complex we have around our political and moral decisions. The people, a collective force, are the ones who create change. We come together to protest, strike and vote for progressive action. If we cannot join forces across the spectrum of political ideologies, then this intolerance will only hamper our nation’s growth. We can have no progress without conversation.
COLUMNS Minority Report:
This election is not unprecedented, regardless of outcome.
Lincoln Currie Columnist One word has been thrown around a lot during the 2020 presidential race: “unprecedented.” In some ways, the description is fitting. We are in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic that is affecting how people are voting. The number of early voters in 2020 is drastically higher than it was in 2016. Many will still vote in person on Election Day, but concerns about lines and safety are legitimate. The reasons behind a high number of early, in-person voting and mail-in ballots are unquestionably related to the pandemic. However, the fundamentals of the presidential election are precedented. Stop thinking of this race in terms of President Donald Trump. Think of it as a generic election. The incumbent nominee is running during an economic catastrophe. As in the past, when this statement holds true, the incumbent candidate tends to lose. If the polls stay steady, the standard rules that
govern politics are still in effect. Even with all the partisan rancor, what voters care about most is how they fared under the incumbent’s administration. If the economy is faring poorly, voters usually retaliate against the incumbent party. In 1932, America was in the middle of the Great Depression — the worst economic slump in our country’s history. The peak unemployment rate during the ’30s was estimated at nearly 25 percent, an abysmal mark. Former President Herbert Hoover was elected just before the start of the Depression and was left to deal with the wreckage. Franklin D. Roosevelt subsequently annihilated Hoover in 1932 with an astounding 472 electoral votes to only 59 for the incumbent. The results of the 1932 election are easy to interpret: Hoover oversaw the worst economic depression in American history. The people were not happy with how he handled it, so they voted for his opponent. Now we face a different crisis as a nation: a pandemic. However, just because the causes of the current economic downturn are different does not mean the race’s fundamentals are too. As much as I like former Vice President Joe Biden, if he wins, most of the credit belongs to his incumbent opponent. We can see the depth of our current economic crisis in the extent to which our government has gone to help the economy and just how inadequate that response has been, despite its magnitude. Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus fund, and it is still not enough. The economy is terrible right now, and the signs make themselves known in both statistics and the eyeball test. Unemployment has doubled since last year, and I see economic rot all around me: businesses are closing, people are out of work, concerts are canceled, schools are closed and so much
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more. If you had told me last year we would be in the middle of a recession that even a $2-trillion stimulus package couldn’t help, I would have told you Trump’s re-election chances were nonexistent. When the economy is as bad as it is now, voters usually retaliate and punish the nominee from the incumbent president’s party. As much as people might say this election is “unprecedented,” the only unprecedented thing is the means by which people are voting. Political consultant James Carville’s “it’s the economy, stupid” will likely stand. But would a Trump win be unprecedented? In 1948, former President Harry Truman trailed Thomas Dewey by 5 percent in many of the national polls. Truman ultimately won the presidential election and carried the popular vote by about 4.5 percent. As of Tuesday, Trump was losing by 8.4 percent in the FiveThirtyEight national polling average and 7.2 percent in the RealClearPolitics national polling average. If the polls are as wrong about Trump in 2020
as they were about Truman in 1948, Trump could win the popular vote and follow Truman’s precedent of upsetting the national polls. Trump’s chances of winning the Electoral College are very high if he wins the popular vote — FiveThirtyEight gives Trump a less than 1-percent chance of winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral College. Additionally, Trump has demonstrably followed the example of Truman’s 1948 “Whistle Stop Tour.” Truman traveled around the country by train and gave speeches to appeal to people in person. Trump is following Truman’s example by making large, in-person rallies a centerpiece of his campaign, including a combined nine rallies across seven states on Sunday and Monday. So, unlikely as it is, a Trump win in 2020 would not be a historical novelty, either. No matter who the president-elect is, he will have followed a precedent. I hope and expect 2020 will follow the precedent set in 1932, not 1948, by sending a Democrat to the White House following an economic disaster that began under a Republican president.
Diamonds and Rust:
The Electoral College is outdated. But what’s the alternative?
Joel Herbert Columnist The United States was founded — at least in theory — on the principle that every individual has equal worth. We are no more or less than our personal desire to conquer each opportunity with as much might as we can muster. So, if that’s the case, why, then, do we have an Electoral College, which enables only 538 people to vote for the president? The Electoral College has presented confusion since at least 1824, when John Quincy Adams won the presidential election through electors in the House of Representatives despite losing both the popular and electoral vote. In fact, “misfire” elections such as this, in which a candidate wins the presidential election despite losing the popular vote, have happened six times before: 1824, 1876, 1888, 1960, 2000 and 2016. Even when an election does not turn out to be a misfire, the Electoral College still prevents individuals from directly choosing the president. This is quite obviously not democracy, and measures to abolish — or at least amend — the Electoral College have been proposed by both Democrats and Republicans. Why, then, do we still hold on to it?
Although the principle of every vote counting is intuitively enticing, the Electoral College does help to preserve our democracy in a way. The U.S. has always been defined by its constant struggle of balancing federal and state power, but the Electoral College prevents any state-by-state confusion by centralizing voting. This centralized system allows for a quicker, more definitive result, whereas a different system with the current state-by-state legal variations in voting would cause confusion and inefficiency. Another benefit of the Electoral College is its ability to protect against what is referred to as the tyranny of the majority — a situation in which the rights of minority groups are overlooked and forgotten by the majority. Our Founding Fathers feared the possibility of a tyrannical government forming if one majority were to mobilize against a minority group, or groups, so they implemented several measures of checks and balances to prevent this. The Electoral College was established as one of those measures. Supporters of the Electoral College argue it protects the rights of those living in smaller, less-populated states. Without it, they say, presidential candidates would not care about farming in Iowa or the opioid crisis in New Hampshire. But is this really true, and do these issues matter more than, say, forest fires in California or gun violence in New York City? The way the Electoral College is currently set up helps protect the minority rights of people living in rural areas, but does nothing to help minority groups who lack a local majority anywhere gain rights that have been denied them. In fact, the current division of voting power has actually been used to further oppress minority groups seeking equality, such as Black Americans during the civil rights movement. In giving a stronger voice to the less-popu-
lated states, the Electoral College subsequently denies cries for help from densely populated areas. At the same time, it gives only a small boost to less-populated states and does nothing to ensure elected candidates will continue to give attention to these states after the election. Majority support of the Electoral College is also quickly diminishing. Sixty-one percent of Americans support a national popular vote, with 23 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats supporting the measure, according to a September Gallup poll. We have documented proof that a national popular vote can be problematic, but it would at least be in line with what the majority of
Americans want. What we should strive for is a voting system that can simultaneously satisfy the needs of our country as whole and as individual parts. The Electoral College in its current form does not function in this way, but we must also be wary of forgetting the benefits it provides. The truth is this: any form of voting, like any form of government, is imperfect. Our current voting institution harbors many issues, but even if we were to implement a new and improved system, some issues would remain and others would arise. All in all, the primary focus should be ensuring every voice carries an equitable weight through our voting system.
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EDITORIAL Journalists, especially, must exercise civic duty to vote A longstanding pillar of journalism mandates those of us involved in newsgathering and truth-telling hide our biases, which is a hard task when everything down to basic human rights is partisan. Newsroom policy tells us to refrain from sharing political beliefs on social media, donating to political campaigns and reporting on any activity we have a personal connection to, all for fear of skewing our perceived objectivity. But where is the line? There is a point at which we step so far into our endeavor for “objectivity” that we compromise our own democratic rights — namely, the right to vote. The question of whether journalists should head to the polls, especially in an election as controversial as this, has persisted in industry dialogue. To refrain from voting, however, is neither effective nor ethical in ensuring objectivity. In short, journalists should vote because they are citizens who have the right and civic duty to do so. But it’s also so much more than that. Journalists wake up every day and choose to defend democracy by holding its caretakers accountable. It only makes sense for us to participate in a system we so valiantly protect. We contribute to society beyond the work we do, because, as real people, we do not simply observe and do nothing else. Reporters don’t exist in a vacuum separate from the rest of the world. Instead, we’re even more integrated in it because our job
and passion demands that we strive to understand it. Journalists are some of the most informed people in the country. We ask hard questions, conduct extensive research and provide vital information to the public. We should be drawing upon this knowledge to push our governments in what we feel is the right direction. We live in a country where votes actually matter. As journalists, choosing not to vote implies we are willing to perform the
more than cowardly. Yes, voter registration records are public, and if someone were to dig up this information, they would uncover our political leanings. But party registration is not some secret we should stow away in fear. To allow ourselves to vote freely, even if some of how we do so is public, is to be transparent about our opinions. It’s important to acknowledge, however, that this is vastly different from amplifying personal opinions through a public
There is a point at which we step so far into our endeavor for ‘objectivity’ that we compromise our own democratic rights — namely, the right to vote. essential work we do without representation in our own republic. And because we are knowledgeable on the candidates and issues on the ballot, the decision to abstain also connotes a political idea in itself: we are so unaffected by policy that we can be satisfied with any outcome. That, of course, is likely untrue anyway. So, to be unsatisfied with current conditions yet not take action to change them, despite having the power to, is nothing
platform or letting it seep into the work we do for the people we serve, who we know will not all share the same perspectives. A social media post declaring an opinion is an attempt to convince an audience of an argument. Voting, on the other hand, is truly just participating in democracy. If that reveals our political beliefs, then so be it. Try as we might to overcome our own political leanings, it would be dishonest to
pretend journalists are not just as human as any other citizen. The transparent reality of it is: unless the news is reported solely by robots — and even those are programmed by humans — it’s simply impossible to be 100 percent free of bias. All we can really do is ensure we recognize our biases and work consciously to keep them out of our reporting. To counteract the possibility of inserting a slant into stories, we take a variety of precautions: Each story, at least at a student newspaper like The Daily Free Press, travels across multiple desks where editors factcheck and probe for skewed perspectives. Editors assign stories carefully to ensure reporters aren’t personally involved in, say, a campaign or organization featured. Photojournalists, too, hold themselves to ethical guidelines that aim to ensure the work they produce will accurately depict the full story. Any form of editing, even an action as simple as cropping a photo, can connote questionable intent. Any published bias erodes the credibility of not just a specific news organization, but the news industry as a whole — because this is a field that rises and falls together. We are the protectors of democracy, and in turn, the founding document of our democracy works to protect us. In this way, journalism and democracy are intertwined, so it would only be responsible for journalists to participate fully in it.
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EDITORIAL BOARD Angela Yang, Editor-in-Chief Melissa Ellin, Campus Editor
Allison Pirog, City Editor
Maxwell Bevington, Sports Editor Lauryn Allen, Photo Editor
Sarah Readdean, Managing Editor Cameron Morsberger, Features Editor
Colbi Edmonds, Opinion Editor
Amber Bhatnagar, Blog Editor
Justin Tang, Podcast Editor